Spotted hyenas are being eaten to extinction and not by other wild animals but by humans.
Hyena meat is now a delicacy across Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Somalia where people have since developed quite an appetite for the wild animal's meat.
Under Islamic law, the meat of hyenas is considered halal, or lawful, even though the animal is wild.
"Whoever is in the state of consecration Ihram and hunts a hyena will have to slaughter a sheep as a penalty. As for other forbidden animals and birds, there is no penalty if a Muhrim hunts them." Saud Bin Mus'id al-Thubaiti, a member of the teaching staff at the faculty of Shariah at Umm al-Qura University, told the Saudi Gazette.
Hyena meat is also eaten in areas of Pakistan and Iran, where it is also considered halal.
Somalia has since joined the bandwagon in driving Africa's spotted hyena into extinction and its meat is now served in restaurants and hotels. So popular is the hyena meat that the price has risen to the point that it is now only affordable to wealthy people.
As if that is not enough, the highly intelligent, social animals who are generally known as scavengers, although in truth they are formidable predators, are also being hunted down for their skins and body parts for use in traditional medicine.
"There is also illegal trade in skins, and body parts for use in traditional medicine, and they are often kept in cages for display purposes," the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) says.
In 2008, IUCN listed the striped hyena as "near threatened" as its population was estimated to be below 10,000.
IUCN says that humans posed a major threat by poisoning the animals and hunting them for use in traditional medicines.
Hyenas are native to north and east Africa, the Middle East and central Asia where they continue to fight for survival.
"The species is commercially hunted in Morocco for use in traditional medicine, with various parts being used, especially the brain, and may fetch very high prices. Hunters may travel hundreds of kilometres to capture this species." IUCN says.
Hyenas can weigh as much as 190 pounds and will attack humans, especially if they are perceived to be hurt, sick or incapacitated.
Interestingly enough, though they look like dogs, hyenas are actually more closely related to cats, belonging to the suborder Feliformia instead of the dog suborder Caniformia.
Even more interesting is that female spotted hyenas have a pseudo-penis that is basically an elongated clitoris. Some pseudo-penises can grow up to seven inches long, totally dwarfing the average length of the human penis.
Contrarily to what most people believe Hyenas don’t have a dark sense of humour and aren’t actually laughing.
Spotted hyenas have a rich vocal repertory; they emit about a dozen distinct vocalizations, most of which can be modulated in various ways to alter their meaning to listeners.
They are often called “laughing hyenas” because their giggle vocalization sounds very much like hysterical human laughter.
The giggle is a loud, high-pitched rapid series of staccato “hee-hee-hee” sounds, they give as an indication of age and social status.
Hyenas have extremely strong jaws that are capable of easily grinding down bones and according to scientific sources, hyena bite is around 1100 psi, rivalling even lions and tigers whose bite pressure is 600 psi and 1050 psi respectively.
At the end of the day, however, as much as meat lovers would love to devour the last standing hyena they also need to take a moment and realise that human’s very existence depends on hyenas’ survival.
Without hyenas, humans would soon drop dead after being hit by all manner of diseases and the earth as we know it today would soon be a dump.
Hyenas play a very crucial role in our ecosystem which no other animal can replicate. Hyenas are mother earth’s cleaners and keep the whole ecosystem clean and healthy.
By eating carcasses left out there in the wild which would have otherwise rot and cause all manner of diseases not to mention foul the atmosphere, hyenas help keep the disease at bay and ensure humanity’s survival.